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Got a camping trip on the cards this summer? Here we look at some top tips to help you catch the right amount of zzzs so that you can make the most of it.
*how to sleep when camping*: a guide to restful nights in the great outdoors

Camping is a family tradition for many of us here in the UK. It offers a fun way to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and throws us into the wonders of nature.  

But, there are a number of factors that could impact our enjoyment of the camping experience. Not least of which being the worry of whether or not we’ll be able to get a proper night’s sleep!  

What with the unfamiliar environment, those wild and alien noises in the night, and a distinct lack of those modern comforts we’re all accustomed to, sleeping under the stars can become a bit of a challenge. So, for seasoned campers and novices alike, we’ve listed some top tips to help you sleep better on your summer camping trip. 

1. getting the right tent and sleeping essentials

When it comes to choosing a tent, it’s best to go with one that suits the unpredictable weather conditions we’re privy to here in the UK. And on a side-note, getting one that offers enough space for you and your co-campers to sleep is a must too. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for a tent with proper ventilation. Ventilation helps to regulate the temperature inside the tent while reducing the amount of condensation. 

Onto the sleeping bag scenario…Again, choosing a sleeping bag that aligns with the expected temperature is never a bad idea. If the nights are forecast to be cold, a mummy bag generally offers better insulation. And on sweaty summer nights, a rectangular sleeping bag gives you more space to enhance airflow and move around.  

And finally onto the question of whether to sleep on the floor of the tent or invest in some sort of roll-mat or air mattress to provide some extra comfort. Our advice? Well, you may think you’re a spring chicken (and perhaps you are!) but when it comes to sleep – especially falling asleep – comfort is key. And so, splurging a little on a good sleeping pad or an air mattress is likely to have a positive impact on your sleep quality and thus a positive impact on your camping trip all-round. These types of camping products cushion you from the hard ground. Plus they’re handy for providing insulation and keeping you comfy during the night so that you suffer less sleep disruptions. 

2. identifying the right camping spot

Camping is always best when done on flat and level ground. Anyone that’s every woken up in a ball in the corner or their tent knows exactly what we’re talking about right now. So, when it’s time to pitch your tent, be on the lookout for a flat, level spot. Avoid pitching it on any rocks and tree roots that could poke through your sleeping pad too.

Another great tip is to avoid low areas as these can be prone to collecting water if and when it rains. Instead, choose yourself a slightly elevated site to make sure your group of campers stay dry and happy.

Natural windbreaks are always a bonus too. So, try to pitch your tent near-ish (but not too close) to nature’s windbreakers. Trees and bushes can help to shield your camping set up from strong winds.

3. dress appropriately for bed

Proper camping is all about the layers. Giving yourself the freedom to be able to layer up or down allows you to adjust your clothing according to your needs. For anyone new to layering, it’s best to start with moisture-wicking base layers as these can help to keep the sweat away from your skin as you sleep. Next, add the insulation layers to keep your body warm. And for those winter campers, a hat is handy for helping you to retain body heat on colder nights. 

Another point to make is the importance of changing into clean, dry clothes before bed. Yes, even when you’re camping! Avoid wearing the clothes you spent the day hiking in as these are likely to be cold, damp and downright uncomfortable. 

4. create a cosy sleeping environment

When you’re camping, wherever possible it’s wise to bring your pillows along for the trip. If this is not possible, you could always bring a camping pillow or make a DIY one out of a sack filled with clothes, towels, or anything soft and comfy. Getting proper head support while you sleep is more important than you may think. 

Earplugs and an eye mask can also be useful for campers come night time. These sleep accessories block out noise and light and can make falling asleep (and staying asleep) easier to do, especially for anyone who’s a bit sensitive to the early morning sun or those night-time bush-rustling sounds. 

Blankets and sleeping bag liners can help to provide extra warmth and comfort too.  

 5. have a night-time routine

Just as you would at home, it’s important to wind down ahead of crawling into your sleeping bag when you are camping. This can be done by engaging in relaxing activities like reading a book or listening to calming music before bed. It would actually be beneficial for you to stick to however you usually wind down before bed while camping too. Your mind and body will already be programmed to recognise those signals that it’s time to start preparing for sleep. 

And just as you would at home, limit any screen time before bed when you’re camping.  Avoiding screens and bright lights an hour before sleeping should help your body transition to into rest mode. 

Also, never forget how great it is to hydrate! Making sure that you drink enough water during the day is important, but you should also try to limit your intake right before bed. Unless you quite like a late-night trip across the campsite (being careful not to trip over any guy lines) to the bathroom, that is.  

6. regulating temperatures during the night

Sleeping in a tent in the summer months can be a hot and sticky experience. So don’t be shy about using your tent's ventilation features to help regulate airflow and reduce condensation build up. And if all else fails, opening a tent door or window slightly can help to prevent stuffiness. 

And in winter, don’t forget that trusty hot water bottle. If the nights are nippy, keeping it in your sleeping bag can help to keep you warm. 

You should also remember that ventilation is super important, even in cold weather. Making sure that your tent is ventilated helps to prevent condensation buildup which can actually make you feel even colder. 

 7. try to stay calm and relaxed

Above all, you need to remember that being in a calm state of mind and allowing your body to properly relax is the best thing for anyone trying to get a good night’s sleep. This remains true when camping too. So, embrace the sounds of nature. Let the rustling leaves and distant animal calls become soothing background noise that you fall asleep to. 

And don’t forget about those breathing exercises. Practicing deep breathing can help calm your mind and body, and get you ready for a restful sleep in your tent.  

how to sleep when camping: our conclusion 

Sleeping well while camping is must if you want to make the most of your outdoor adventure. But arming yourself with the right camping gear and creating yourself a relaxing bedtime routine can make you more likely drift off peacefully during those nights under the stars.  

Happy camping and sweet dreams! Until next time, eve sleep.